EDF to Invest 10 Bln Euros for Extra Nuclear safety

????The Fukushima disaster in Japan triggered heated discussion in Europe regarding whether nuclear energy should or should not exist. With stronger public opinion against the nuclear energy, many European countries have to reverse their policies and abandon nuclear energy programs. However, France, with a leading nuclear energy industry in the world, refused the option. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that France would continue to defend its nuclear power industry. EDF announced to invest 10 billion euros to improve safety at France??s nuclear reactors, according to French media in early January.

????France has suffered from inadequate fossil energy resources and several oil crises. 60% population in France approve of nuclear power in spite of doubt. The Chernobyl nuclear accident in former Soviet Union in the 1980s has cast a shadow over the nuclear power on the public. Then world citizens, including the French, have more doubt on nuclear power, lowering its support. What??s more, the Fukushima accident in Japan and the Maku Le nuclear power plant explosion in France have made people more panic. Some anti-nuclear organizations and people took to the streets to protest against the government??s large-scale application of nuclear power, appealing to stop developing nuclear energy and make France a nuclear-free zone as ??nuclear power kills the future?? and ??nuclear power is cancer??.

????Faced with anti-nuclear mass demonstrations and criticism from opposite parties, the French government made it clear that it will not modify the current nuclear policy. French PM Francois Fillon saw nuclear power as the solution of power in the future. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said, ??we cannot do without nuclear power in at least 10 years.?? French Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet also pointed out that nuclear power was good and the only thing they needed to do was to enhance its safety.

????Since people used the atomic energy for power generation in 1951, France soon got on the train of nuclear power. After more than 50 years?? development, the country has built a strong nuclear industry system. Right now, France has 58 nuclear units in operation with a total installed capacity of over 63??300 MW, accounting for 78% of the total generated power. The ratio is higher than that in other industrial countries. Nuclear power occupies an absolutely vital place in power and resource industry in France. It has played a pivotal role in the social and economic development in France, but also has made immeasurable contributions to the nice ecological environment France possesses today.

????The rapid development of nuclear power in France in the decades has everything to do with the public??s participation and support and enhanced legislative protection, in addition to government??s forward-looking decisions based on the actual situation. The country has put a lot of emphasis on information transparency regarding this issue all along, in order to dispel public doubts. For that, EDF often organizes the public and the media to visit the nuclear plants and facilities,  educates the society on nuclear power, and introduces its unique advantages and safety, which wins the support from the majority of the population. What??s more, based on the discussion involving all walks of life, France enacted a series of laws to safeguard the nuclear power development, such as ??the Energy White Paper?? and ??Information Transparency and Nuclear Power Safety Law??. All these have contributed to the glory of nuclear power in France.

????Nuclear power is what France can be most proud of. Giving up nuclear power constitutes a ??catastrophe to France??s industry, economy and employment??. Statistics show that the added value of France??s nuclear power industry is 20 to 28 billion euros. Its nuclear power has not only met the domestic needs, but also been exported to the neighbors. France saves 24 billion euros to import oil every year. As the biggest operator in Europe, EDF??s market assets value about 80 billion euros. It??s estimated that 400 billion euros will be lost and 1 million jobs will be threatened if EDF shut down nuclear plants. Some experts believe that no matter how the situation changes in Europe, France will have no other choice but continue walking down the development of nuclear power for its own interest.

????The longer-term consideration for France to insist on developing nuclear power is to ensure the sustainable development of energy-- the strategic resource. Its ultimate goal is to control energy consumption, improve energy efficiency, and reduce environmental pollution. In the next 10 years, France plans to increase material wealth by 25% with only 9% growth in energy consumption. In 30 years, the country envisions to double its wealth while maintaining its current energy consumption. Nuclear power has obvious advantages and potential to make this vision a reality. First, nuclear power is cheaper than other energies in France. According to the data released by French energy agencies, the price for nuclear power is 50 euros per MWh, while biomass power costs 120 euros per MWh, wind power is 150 to 180 euros per MWh, and solar power is 250 to 600 euros per MWh. Then, nuclear power is clean and green, favorable to curb the global warming and realize the emission reduction by the Kyoto Protocol. EDF??s carbon dioxide emission per kilowatt of generating capacity is only 48 grams, the lowest among European countries. The dominating nuclear power should take the merit. Therefore, as the French insiders said, nuclear is not the only solution to energy problems, but they cannot find other package solutions excluding it.

????Source: People??s Daily

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